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Municipal utility turns to software solution for better business practices

Since 1923, the city of Garland, Texas, has been providing electricity service to its citizens through Garland Power & Light with its locally owned and controlled not-for-profit municipal utility. With nearly 68,000 customers, GP&L is the third-largest municipal utility in Texas and the 41st-largest in the nation.

GP&L needed to enhance video surveillance protection of its wide-ranging infrastructure and facilities, well beyond the capabilities of its existing analog CCTV system.

The utility has three gas-fired generating plants, for a total of 640 megawatts of generating capacity, supported by a transmission system of 23 substations and 133 miles of transmission lines. In addition, the city is a partner in the Texas Municipal Power Agency, which operates the 462 megawatt, coal-fired Gibbons Creek Power Plant. GP&L’s energy distribution system has 1,007 miles of overhead lines and an additional 1,000 miles of line underground. For this extensive and widely dispersed infrastructure, GP&L required improved image quality, increased coverage and extended video retention capacity for its video surveillance system.

Preferred Technology Solutions, an authorized Intransa integrator, provided a complete solution to GP&L. The solution integrates three types of previously installed cameras, including Axis Communications’ megapixel cameras, for greatly improved coverage and higher image resolution. Eventually, GP&L officials envision more than 300 IP cameras for complete video coverage to meet the utility’s requirements.

“The IP surveillance system is a major component in our ability to monitor and protect our critical infrastructure,” said David Grubbs, regulatory and compliance director of GP&L. “The Intransa platform provides scalable capacity that will allow our new surveillance solution to cost-effectively meet our objectives, now and in the future.

“Working with Intransa, we have integrated the three brands of previously installed IP cameras and are able to use the newer technologies and cameras as they become available. We are impressed with the ease of expanding the system and are already beginning the next-phase expansion.”

A Milestone video management system now provides a new level of video management and control to meet GP&L’s needs for both live stream monitoring and video archiving capabilities. Milestone and Axis are both members of the Intransa VideoAppliance, certified for quick, simple and risk-free integration with Intransa platforms.

Supporting the new video surveillance solution is an Intransa recording and playback platform that supports modular recording capacity without ever halting recording.

“The platform used in the new Garland Power & Light IP video surveillance deployment provides a simple, single-system view of all of the video recording capacity supporting the Axis Communications, two other brands of IP cameras and the Milestone Systems VMS,” Grubbs said. “Because of the design of the system, we have been able to meet the bandwidth requirements of large numbers of cameras recording continuously, as well as vast storage capability to meet our storage requirements for up to 90 days of recorded video.”

The fault-resilient platform also delivers advanced RAID protection to eliminate the risk of lost video, which plagues CCTV environments. Hot-swap technology provides nonstop recording with unattended operation supported by e-mail alerts, and without need for scheduled downtime for maintenance.

Access to both live and recorded video, and to system management tasks, can be performed as needed from any authorized location with IP access, providing increased flexibility and reduced administration for GP&L.

This article originally appeared in the February 2011 issue of Security Today.

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